Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun but flawed, 18 Feb 2004
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (PS2) (Video Game)
Here's the thing. I like this game, I love the films and I enjoyed the books. With this in mind I was almost tempted to give this five stars but I couldn't. But let's not dwell on the sloppy elements for now and concentrate on what's good in this game.
Once again the game throws you straight into the mix when you start your first game. In 'The Two Towers' you were placed in the role of Isildur as he battled Orcs on the slopes of Mount Doom. It was an exciting way to start and the blending of cut scene and in-game action was almost seamless. Thankfully the games creators have started in a similar fashion and here you are thrust into the shoes of Gandalf as he finishes off the Uruk-Hai at Helms Deep, picking up where the first game left off.
If you've played the first game, you'll notice differences, both good and bad, immediately. First the good. It looks incredible. From the accurate but slightley bleak arenas of the first game, you arrive in a sweeping, brightly lit hive of activity that, and I don't like to use hyperbole very often, is frankly mind blowing.
The fighting, by and large, is roughly the same, with a few minor differences. Firstly each character has a new special move which can be accessed by holding down all four shoulder buttons at once. In Gandalf's case this is a sphere of light wich surrounds him and causes damage to any unfriendly characters it touches. These take a while to charge up and should really be used sparringly as they leave you chracter vulnerable while they kick in. Pushing enemys away is now far less effective than the first game and this is the first of my gripes with the game. In 'The Two Towers' there was nothing more satisfying than finishing of an attacking Uruk and then kicking another away just before he could land a heavy blow. Here, the kicks are innacurate and do so little that you woner if they landed at all. The character who suffers the most here is Legolas, who relys on quick linked attacks to stand any chance of success when the fighting gets up close and personal.
On the subject of characters, this is another double edged sword for the game. On the one hand it greatly extends the life-span of the game, offering as it does three completely different roots through. These are split into Wizard (controlling Gandalf) King (Aragorn, legolas, Gimli) and the Hobbits (Sam and Frodo). This is an excellent way of plotting the story and also offer you an alternative should you get stuck (and you will get stuck). The downside is that the games creators have had to spread a lot of good ideas thinly across the paths. This leads to some severely dissapointing and rediculously difficult levels such as Shelob's Lair and the exceedingly poor Pelenor Fields (Kill elpephant, shoot Nazgul kill elephant, shoot Nazgul kill eleph....etc). This is sad because it detracts from some excellent moments such as Osgiliath, Cirith Ungol, the siege of Minis Tirith and so on...
As I mentioned rediculous difficulty is an issue but is thankfully limited to only a couple of levels, namely Shelob's Cave and the Minas Tirith courtyard. Although the difficulty here adds to the 'struggling against the odds' feel of the experience, there's only so many times you can be killed by a baby spider or jumped on simultaneously by seven Uruk-Hai before it starts to grate somewhat.
To summarise then, RotK is a very good game that falls short of the term 'classic' due to some slack level design, stupid difficulty and repetetive combat. If you like the book and/or films then I suggest you buy this now. If you just like sword fighting then get Soul Caliber instead.
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